Sunday, 31 August 2014
Brompton Bike Hire have come up with a great new concept, folding bikes held in Docks, which you book online, our nearest one is on Stoke Station, you can collect from one dock and return to another one if more convenient and only costs £5 per day, or £20 annual memership brings the cost down to £2.50 per day and you keep the bike for as long as you wish, only getting charged when you return it. We collected ours yesterday and joined the Trent and Mersey Canal Towpath which runs alongside the Railway, it is one of British Waterways older canals taking eleven years to build at a cost of £300,000, it opened in 1777, extending ninety three and a half miles through towns of Mid-Cheshire, The Potteries and the East Midlands. We started at the Osborn Bridge and cycled two and a half miles to Trentham Lock and back again. As the bikes are folded they are easily carried onto trains or put into the boot of a car and used at further destinations. The photo's below were taken with my pocket Canon Power Shot SX160.
Wednesday, 27 August 2014
Having lived close to Bosley Reservoir now since January, yesterday afternoon was the first sighting I have had of an Heron as it flew over my property, last week end we checked out another stretch of the Canal system around the region, this time Caldon Canal from Sneyd Green towards Milton and then later on in the day from Stockton Brook towards Leek.
Sunday, 17 August 2014
We had a drive to Westport Lake and as there was little there decided to take a walk along the Canal Tow Path towards Kidsgrove, to Harecastle Tunnel, at over one and a half miles long James Brindley's Tunnel was the longest in the country, channeling through the granite and millstone grit of Harecastle Hill (hences the re-naming) took nearly 11 years with over 600 miners and masons working with explosives in a series of shafts along the line of the Tunnel hard rock and quicksand made tunneling difficult and flooding was a constant problem, such dangerous work meant that many of these early navigators lost their lives, Narrowboats have to travel through now a days in convoy but in early days because the horses would not go into such a dark tunnel it was left to the men to push the Narrowboat through with their legs and the horses were walked round to join them the other end, to stop any problem with fumes with the convoys one end of the tunnel is always closed off and a large extractor fan pulls the fresh air through the tunnel. The last picture below is the view looking back towards Westport Lake.
The Night Cam is back in action, the grass on the bank and causeway is too long for any decent shots, even if the Fox appears, so as I have seen sign's that the Fox's come through a small Coppice beyond, I decided to find a clearing down there and deployed the Cam for the first time last night, took a bit of relocating this morning as it all looks the same down there, but it was worth it, although very wary and spent a lot of time criss crossing in front of the area baited, the Fox was in the area for a good 23 minutes and returned six hours later although just in the distance, I got the most shots ever in one night, and of course there is always the Jays and the Magpies ready to clear up anything that is left. However I am still hopeful of finding a Badger.
Wednesday, 6 August 2014
Well the last two days of a fantastic trip, what a year it has been, it just gets better and better, we always started our days with a good Birders Breakfast, my name for a good English Breakfast, taking sandwiches and drinks with us enabled us to concentrate on birding from 8am till 7pm when we always ended our day in the local Pub for a hearty meal, on the return to our accommodation it just left enough time to have a well earned cuppa and to down load the photo's of the day onto my computer, perhaps half an hour watching the Commonwealth Games and then an early night. Thursday we went back to Cemlyn Bay this time to find the other car park that takes you the other side of the Bay behind the deralict buildings where I have spotted seals on earlier visits, they did not disappoint just not close enough for photo's, so we had another crack at the Terns after finding the White Throat. Friday we found Llyn Alaw Reservoir which seemed to have been forgotten and abandoned for some time, with the Visitors Centre and Toilets all Derelict and boarded up, what a shame although devoid of anything on the water, it was carpeted in Orchids with a lot of them past their best the nearest ID I can come up with is Southern Marsh, I would gladly be corrected if anyone can give me a definite ID, with also lots of Common Blue Butterflies, I caught the Damselfly on the stream running from the overflow of the Reservoir and again believe it to be a Beautiful blue, again would love to be corrected if I am wrong. The only disappointment of the trip was that I thought I would finally break my duck at last and get a shot of a kingfisher, I had only just mentioned to Pete that the stream would be ideal for a Kingfisher when out of the corner of my eye I spotted one a split second after it saw us and flew off, as it seemed to be a regular spot with the over flow pool teaming with small fish, I waited there sometime, with no joy, we walked the length of the stream to see if we could spot it further down, when Pete spotted it back on the little twig it was on earlier, I shot back along the stream in my exuberance forgetting the golden rule, to stop and get a record shot before getting too close, and that was the problem I got too close, with the only thing left for me to do was to look over the small wall, if it had not been facing me I may have gotten away with it, as it was it was looking straight at me and off it went again, bugger!! Pete god bless him went on a hike in the direction it had gone in the hopes of pushing it back my way but after waiting a good half hour, I had to give it up,if it had not been our last day I would gladly have returned and spent the whole day there camped and ready for it, oh well still one to get!! As I have mentioned before the local pub was one of the best finds of the trip and the meals were so large it was impossible to manage a pudding, having one of my favouites on the menu I came up with a cunning plan, to only have a portion of chips and the blackberry and apple crumble and custard, served together knowing how long it took the others to get through their main course, much to the amusement of everyone, a photo had to be taken of the spectical. So another great weeks birding, with great company, great weather and great food, what more do you need. Thanks again Alan and Pete!!!
Tuesday, 5 August 2014
This was the most Diverse day of all starting with a visit to Newborough Beach then into the Forest were we took a one and a half mile Woodland Red Squirrel Walk, there are well over 600 Red Squirrels on the Island after a bounty being put on Grey Squirrels, only getting a quick glimpse of one on the trip to Scotland and only about three shots of that one, I was keen to see more. We didn't spot any Squirrels but found a corner of the walk absolutely teaming with Butterflies and Damselflies and all the ones below were taken in just a small area and not having my Macro lens with me just my Sigma 150 to 500, I don't think they turned out too badly, around another corner and we found a field of Miniture Ponies and Foals (very cute) on arriving back at the car park we found the feeding station we were looking for and there were the Red Squirrels, go figure!! We had two of them that kept up a regular visit to the feeding boxes, they were great fun to watch especially when one got hit on the head with the box lid!! After a quick stop to see the Scenery at Porth Nobla, it was back to South Stack finding Greenfinch, Stonechat and also a Wall Butterfly, but it was the Chough we were all there for and this trip did not disappoint getting the best, closest shots ever!! Also spotted the Search and Rescue Helicopter which prompted our next stop which was RAF Valley at Y Fali Valley, to watch the Hawks landing, they come in to land and then blast off again circling around over head to come in for another landing, some of them doing it two or three times. As I said a very Diverse Day.
Sunday, 3 August 2014
Swinging round and investigating the other corner of the Island we stopped first to view the Menai Bridge and the Menai Strait, carrying round to the furthest tip of the Island to get a view of Puffin Island, but alas no view of Puffin's, next was Red Wharf Bay and as we were so close to our favourite pub it would have been rude not to pop in, then it was down to check out the Dulas Bay where we found a Dunlin, Wednesday was another visit to South Stack deciding this time to walk down to the Light House, thankfully we did not learn how many steps there were till the next day otherwise it may have changed our minds, as it was there was not a lot to see and I would not venture there again, if your wondering there are 400 steps down and yes the same 400 back up again, photographic evidence that we did it is below with Allen and Pete just doing the last couple of steps, also one of them in front of the Menai Strait, we were parked in the viewing layby. I took a shot of North Stack which is a private house only accessed by a very good sturdy 4 x 4 and it was nice to get a different shot of the Light House, we did upset the Lady Warden by not going up even more steps to the top of the Light House which she found very strange. It did give me my first glimpse of Oystercatcher Young, Fulmar and Guillemot Young but not close enough for photo's, did get close to the Gulls, but the heat haze and light was not helpful with the Chough which again were in residence in the usual paddocks. I also managed a sunset which also gives you the view we had every morning opening the van door.